“It was a weird game.”
Head coach Joe Mazzulla found himself perplexed after the Boston Celtics’ 105-96 win over the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night. “It was a weird environment,” he said. “It was one of those situations where we had to constantly fight to create our own energy.”
Boston shot better from three than two for just the second time all season, and it felt as though their intensity levels varied from minute to minute.
It was a game of runs, as the Celtics traded long blows with the Raptors, and in the final five minutes of the contest, it happened to be Toronto’s turn to surge forward.
At the 5:10 mark, Boston was up 100-88. Fast forward a Pascal Siakam offensive-rebound tip-in, two Siakam free-throws, an Immanuel Quickly floater, and a Scottie Barnes layup later, and the lead was cut down to four. All within the span of three minutes.
The Raptors had all the momentum with a chance to keep piling on, but Derrick White stopped them in their tracks. With the shot clock winding down, Jayson Tatum flung the ball to him in the corner with a skip pass, and White drained a contested corner three to put the Celtics up by seven.
The Toronto air must get White amped up, as he hit this same exact shot two months ago when the Celtics took down the Raptors on November 17.
“Just keep believing in the work and trust that if you do, it’s going to turn for you,” White said. “So just rise up and shoot with confidence.”
White snapped out of his slump on Monday night, a tumble some believe was initiated by his appearance on The Old Man & The Three with JJ Redick and Tommy Alter.
He finished with 22 points, two rebounds, and one assist while shooting 7-of-18 from the floor and 5-of-11 from beyond the three-point arc.
But White’s impact didn’t stop on the offensive end. The All-Defensive guard made sure to leave his mark on both ends, as usual, highlighted by a crucial late-game block on RJ Barrett (that wasn’t actually recorded as a block).
Barrett was 11-of-13 from the field up to that point, with all 11 scores coming inside the three-point arc. He was absolutely torching the Celtics, and a bucket over White in that moment would have extended Toronto’s run to eight, but the Celtics star delivered.
Big-time buckets on one end and big-time stops on the other.
“Man, he’s an All-Star,” Jrue Holiday said of White. “I think the things that he does, a lot of time [they] go unnoticed. But, the way that he plays, the way that he carries this team, especially with JB out tonight, and he hit a big shot there in the corner. Yeah, that’s what D-White does.”